Your Training Wake-Up Call, Part 2

25 Apr, 2017 By: Robert Green

CAD Manager Column: Instructor-led, remote, one-on-one — all types of training have their own requirements, so it’s crucial to learn the differences.


In the previous installment of the CAD Manager’s Newsletter, I issued a wake-up call for CAD managers who need to get their training programs on track (or start one), along with some action items to get the process rolling. Based on the comments and questions I received, it’s clear that many of you are wrestling with training processes!

In this edition, we’ll conclude by talking about the mechanics of delivering training and leveraging training materials over time. I’ll also answer a few of the questions I received as we go along. Here goes.

Prepare the Written Materials

Question: “In today’s video age, is there still a place for written training materials?”

Absolutely! After the training takes place, users won’t have to rewatch your entire training session if they can fall back to the cheat sheet–style handouts you give them. Using the “Design Your Training Program tips from the previous edition, you’ll easily create training materials that are concise and media-savvy from the start. Here is the approach I use to create training materials for my clients:

  • Create a rough script. Typically comprising a list of bullet items combined with a demonstration file, the rough script allows me to think about the exact sequence of steps I’ll use to convey my training concept(s).
  • Do a trial run. Talk through the training using the rough scripts to see how it flows. You should see very quickly if you’ve forgotten anything or have steps in the wrong order.
  • Cycle though more scripting and trial runs. Repeat the two steps above, making any changes to the script and example files as needed until you’re confident you have everything in order. By this time, the flow of the presentation should be familiar, and your confidence should be very high. This confidence will benefit you in the training room, because your students will see how well you know the material.
  • Record your final trial run. Using a video recording tool (more on this shortly), capture the screen and narration of your final trial run. This will help you create training handouts, practice your timing, and improve your public speaking skills — but only if you take the time to listen to yourself.
  • Create simple handouts. The handouts I create are actually “cheat sheets” that users can reference later, so they tend to contain lots of screen captures and minimal wording. I typically include an action item such as, “From the File menu, select Plot, and your screen will look like this,” followed by a screen capture. Remember that rough script you’ve been editing? That’s a great start on the handout! Remember that recording you did? It already has the screen captures in it, and you can use your own narration to write the action items!
  • Proofread, adjust, and finalize. This is the spit-and-polish phase where handouts are checked, example files are saved, and your presenter’s notes are finalized. You’ve now been through the material many times and should be ready to train. For an extra measure of certainty you can ask a trusted power user to look through your handouts and examples as a final check.
  • Try starting at the end. My work process is backward, compared with how most people approach the creation of training material: I talk it through first and do the writing last. I just find it more efficient that way — try it and see what you think.

Instructor-Led Training

Now that it’s time to train, let’s consider the minimum requirements for delivering a great instructor-led session.

A good training room. What type of room is best? Ideally, you should secure a conference room with doors/blinds that close, easy-to-control lighting, and a huge flat screen or projector/screen combination. The goal is to have an environment where outside noise and distractions are minimized, and projected images are easy to see. Remember: If your trainees can’t see and hear your material clearly, they can’t learn it.

A properly configured training machine. This could be your laptop, or it could be a desktop machine, but you need to make sure the following items are taken care of before you begin training:

  • All required applications and sample files installed.
  • All network drives and peripherals properly configured.
  • E-mail and messaging applications disabled (to prevent unplanned pop-ups).
  • All icons/ribbon elements set to large size (easier to see).
  • Mouse trails enabled (so mouse motions are easy to see).
  • All recording applications and hardware properly configured (more on this shortly).

Handouts distributed and attendance recorded. All attendees need to receive the training handout cheat sheets discussed above prior to training, and should sign a training attendance sheet as they enter the room. By taking these steps you set the tone for what will be covered and show that you’re serious about training — without having to say a word.

Deliver your training. This is the easy part! Because your training room is properly outfitted and you’ve prepared your training materials so thoroughly, you’ll breeze right through it.

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About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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Re: Your Training Wake-Up Call, Part 2
by: jmaeding
April 26, 2017 - 2:52pm
Robert, thanks again for the article. Another aspect of all this that some companies miss is the idea of a mentor for each person. Even when you prepare the perfect training system, you cannot just send people to it at will. Most will not digest the material until they need to use it. Then, when they do, the processes are typically not the same for every job, so task specific training is needed. At least that is the case with us. We do not do rubber stamp type projects. Every one has a twist and the current trend here is less land for more buildings, and higher drainage collection so utils are more crowded. Whatever the industry, if the cad manager does training perfect, there still is a huge need for real time training by a mentor and PM's just do not like that kind of drag. Where's the cheese for my wine?